11/28/2012

Homemade Pizza Dough

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Make your own pizza dough.  Really, give it a try and see if you don't end up doing it again.  Pizza places are humming during the holidays due to the amount of cooking being done for parties and family gatherings.  And that's great.  There are a lot of good pizza places out there.  But being able to reach into the fridge or freezer for your own hand-crafted dough is something special.  Taking on the challenge of perfecting it can be a rewarding experience (obsession) you might never have expected.  

This dough is great for thin pizza that has a crisp crust and chewy pull (thank the high gluten flour for that one), but it is also a suitable dough for calzones, stromboli, pizza bites, or even a simple flat bread for the dinner table.       

11/25/2012

Sunday Dinner

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Hot Cream Cheese Shrimp Dip


Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

The Sunday after Thanksgiving means one thing for sure at our table.  While the menu does change up a bit, the main course is a must-- Turkey and Sausage Gumbo.  It is my favorite way to use up those turkey leftovers.  I normally like to prepare a dessert to go along with the main course that is a nice segue into the upcoming holiday season.  I think the warm spices and cream cheese frosting in this cake will fill that role.


I grew up eating the spice cake and frosting from the box and tub and I will admit... I loved it!  But if you are a reader, you know that I try to steer clear of such grocery items and go homemade when time allows.  To bring out a really good spice, the ground spices are bloomed in browned butter and fresh ginger is used for more flavor.  Buttermilk is used for a tangy, tender batter and the whole cake is frosted with my go-to cream cheese frosting with just a touch of the reserved spice.


11/21/2012

Turkey Cranberry Enchiladas

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I don't mind eating an endless parade of turkey sandwiches the weekend after Thanksgiving.  A good roll, mayonnaise, and some cranberry sauce compliment the left over bird just fine for me.  However, some people like a more creative way to re-purpose mounds of good turkey meat.  This recipe has flavor and creativity in spades.

Instead of using my spiced whole berry cranberry sauce, I like to use a simple and spiceless cranberry sauce in lieu of the canned version called for in the original recipe.  I also like to make my own salsa, but you can certainly use the salsa of your preference.  The black beans add more substance while the spices and chipotle in adobe add a good zing to create a balance of sweet and savory that is perfect for this time of year.  Serve it with a simple salad or, in this case, a side of sweet potato hash.

Other ways to use leftovers...

Turkey and Sweet Potato Croquettes with Cranberry Apple Salsa







Turkey and Sausage Gumbo







Turkey Chilaques (substitute turkey for the chicken)







Red Cabbage Slaw with Cranberry Vinaigrette









Sweet Potato Strips with Lime Salt






11/20/2012

Make-Ahead Fluffy Dinner Rolls

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When dinner is at your house this year and you have ten different dishes to time right and prepare for, a make ahead recipe is much appreciated.  These rolls are a family favorite and simply cannot be replaced with a store bought substitute.  Mutiny (led by my 12 year old daughter, Emma) would ensue.  My mother normally makes them, but she is hundreds of miles away this Thanksgiving☹, so the duty falls on me.  That is where the make ahead part comes in and makes everything both easy and good.

These rolls are the perfect compliment to Thanksgiving dinner.  They are sturdy enough to sop up gravy, but tender enough to be a pat of butter's dream date.  They are also just the right size for late night and all weekend turkey sandwiches.

11/18/2012

Brown Sugar Custard-Cranberry Tart

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Instead of sharing a recipe from our Sunday dinner tonight, I am taking this opportunity to share our dessert from last Sunday as well as some other desserts that might be welcome additions to your holiday dessert table.

This dessert is from the current issue of Food & Wine.  It is essentially a Frenchman's nod to an American tart.  The cranberries are first candied in a sugar and liquid mixture.  But rather than use water, I went for a little more flavor and used equal parts orange juice and Cognac (brandy can be used as well). The rest of the filling is a simple brown sugar custard that is poured into a pre-baked tart shell and baked until set.  I omitted the almond extract and went with a little vanilla and a touch of spice from cinnamon to compliment the orange juice and Cognac.  A dusting of confectioners' sugar and a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream cap off this tart that is literally bursting with flavor.

Other desserts you might enjoy for Thanksgiving...












































11/15/2012

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

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I know many people are in a mad search for Thanksgiving recipes about this time, but I simply must share another pumpkin baked good before we all give thanks.  And thankful you will be when you give this recipe a go (Nice segue!). This is a simple-to-put-together cake batter (no stand mixer needed) swirled with a cream cheese filling and sprinkled with a sweet coconut pecan topping.  It is moist, creamy, and has a little crunch from the topping.  

In lieu of ground cinnamon in the batter, I like to use some pumpkin pie spice for a bit more essence.  I like the combo of pecans and coconut, but walnuts would also be a nice pairing.  Heavy on the pumpkin purée and light on the oil (only 1/4 cup), this makes for a nice breakfast treat that is easier on the waistline--something we all can appreciate with the upcoming holiday gluttony.  As good as it is room temperature or barely warm for breakfast, it is also good after dinner with a nice cup of tea.  *Secret*-- I have been known to sneak a slice or two cold from the refrigerator.  Only my dogs have known that... up 'til now.

Other pumpkin baked goods you might enjoy...



Pumpkin Yeast Bread (makes for a superb leftover turkey sandwich)

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Truffles (o.k. not a baked good, but certainly a must make)
Spiced Pumpkin Rice Crispy Treats (again not a baked good, but another must make)

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Herbs

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Brussels sprouts.  Ok, if you're still reading, you are probably not one who reflexively cringes at the thought of this polarizing vegetable.  I get it---they are not for everybody.  But if you or someone you like to cook for does enjoy partaking of the tender splendor that makes up the essence of the Brussels sprout, this recipe can become a go-to when a savory side dish is called for----Hmmm.  Oh yeah, Thanksgiving.....   


Unlike the more standard roasting or steaming of brussels sprouts, this recipe utilizes the braising technique.  They are browned in a little butter and oil and then slowly simmered with some good chicken stock (or turkey stock if it's on hand this time of year).  Combined with some bacon (always a good friend of a green vegetable☺), some shallots, and a few herbs, these edible buds are fork tender and quite possibly capable of winning over a few of those curled up noses at the table.

Other side dishes that might like to serve for your Thanksgiving spread...






11/11/2012

Sunday Dinner

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Brie, Pear, and Pistachio Mini-Phyllo Cups

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes


If you are a regular reader, this Sunday dinner might look vaguely similar to last week's menu.  I was in the mood for a hearty beef stew, but the brief warm up made that kind of meal a little less desirable.  There are certainly no complaints from my family when it comes to roast chicken and potatoes, so they are back on the menu. 


How many of you watched your mother or father make mashed potatoes without a recipe? Yeah, me too.  It was a little bit of milk and butter and that was that.  Nothing wrong with that approach to cooking, but I like to have a recipe that will ensure consistency in taste and texture each time.  

Buttermilk is used in lieu of the usual milk or cream.  In order to keep the buttermilk from curdling, it must be at room temperature and then combined with the melted butter before folding into the potatoes.  I prefer to use my potato ricer to mash the potatoes, but you can use any tool of your choice.  Serve them immediately with an extra pat of butter and a garnish of chopped fresh chives.  Then watch your family mound these fluffy, creamy, and slightly tangy taters on their plates.

11/09/2012

Whopper Whoopie Pies

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Even though it has been over a week and we are quickly approaching the holiday season, I am sure there many of you who still have a bag full of Halloween candy laying around the house.  I know I do.  But rather than eat candy bar after candy bar, I like to get creative and use them as ingredients in recipes.

I use my favorite whoopie pie cake batter with just a minor change or two. I do like to use a liqueur in my recipe, but it can be omitted.  For added taste and texture, I roll the edges of the filled cake in chopped malted milk balls (Whoppers).  Cakey, creamy, crunchy--you will get all that with a dreamy flavor to boot in these whoopie pies.

*See my post of chocolate candy bar squares for another great way to use left over Halloween candy!

11/06/2012

Pork Wiener Schnitzel

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With a busy schedule and a pair of broken glasses, sitting at the computer typing has not been on my to do list.  But now I am sporting a pair of new rims and a have a break in the schedule.  So rewind to last Sunday's dinner menu as I am sharing the main event.



Wiener Schnitzel is the traditional dish of Vienna.   Cutlets of veal are pounded thin, breaded, and fried until wrinkled, puffed, and golden brown.  However, I prefer the German take on this classic and therefore use pork instead of the veal.  I use a boneless rack of pork rather than the tenderloin because I like a little of the tender dark meat along with the white meat on my plate.  A simple garnish of parsley, capers, finely chopped egg, and a squeeze from a lemon wedge round out the flavor palate of the dish.  Leftovers make for one heck of a sandwich.  Ask someone from the Hawkeye State! 

11/04/2012

Sunday Dinner

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Caramelized Onions and Gruyère Mini Phyllo Cups

Glazed Carrots
Cranberry Walnut Wheat Rolls



"Breathe deep the gathering gloom,
Watch lights fade from every room"

It is at this time of year (the turning back of the clock to Standard Time in the U.S.) that my husband will unfailingly recite this Moody Blues lyric.  When darkness comes in the 5 o'clock hour, we know that we are on the front edge of the coming Winter here in the Midwest.  But that's no reason to get down about it.  I say that's a reason to have a delicious, comforting meal☺. 


Sweet and nutty are the two flavors that help a rather ordinary roll recipe stand out.  The sweetness comes from a bit of brown sugar and the addition of dried cranberries.  Walnuts and some whole wheat flour provide a pleasing nuttiness. Baked until golden brown and crusty on the outside and soft and tender on the inside, these cranberry walnut wheat rolls are a tasty compliment to a classic and comforting Fall meal.

Sunday Dinner one year ago
Sunday Dinner two years ago

11/02/2012

Baked Pumpkin Cake Doughnuts

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Normally I don't go for recipes that require a special tool or baking pan, but when I saw this recipe on my Facebook like page, I was headed to the store for a new pan.  As you can probably tell, it is a doughnut pan.  They are inexpensive and easy to find.  I found mine at the craft store and with a 40% off coupon, I got a good deal.  However, you still can make this recipe without a doughnut pan.  Just use a standard muffin pan and increase the baking time.  After all, one can never have too many pumpkin muffin recipes in their repertoire.

These are delightfully moist and cakey treats with a beautiful orange color. They are served best warm from the oven and rolled in cinnamon sugar, but they will keep for several days.  This is a delicious recipe that I will go back to again and again.  In fact, I might even experiment a bit and substitute half of the oil with mashed banana to give it that pumpkin-banana bread flavor that we also enjoy.

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